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How healthy is our hobby? (check the stuff that's healthy)

  • Locomotives

    Votes: 14 40.0%
  • Rolling stock

    Votes: 15 42.9%
  • Structures

    Votes: 9 25.7%
  • Track & Switches

    Votes: 11 31.4%
  • Electronics

    Votes: 20 57.1%
  • Manufacturing means

    Votes: 7 20.0%
  • Literature / info

    Votes: 12 34.3%
  • Community / communications

    Votes: 21 60.0%
  • Tools

    Votes: 16 45.7%
  • Materials

    Votes: 14 40.0%
1 - 20 of 32 Posts

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Journeyman Lunatic
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What's your feelings about how our hobby is faring these days? Virile and vibrant? Or on the ropes? Just for fun, here's a poll, sliced into several subtopics.

It's a multiple choice poll, so click all the boxes you favor. And feel free to leave a comment.

(To give proper credit, this poll is inspired by the "golden era" thread that Zubi started).
 

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Cliff

I checked only one community. I don't see any new products coming down the line that interest me. I have enough so it would require something special, a late steam freight engine, like USAT'S Hudson could tempt me, but I think that the lack of new different models, engines, cars, structures is hurting the future.

Zubi was talking about live steam. Most of us use electrons and I don't see much there.

Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Chuck,

Understood, I'm in the electron fuel pool as well.

I left this poll as non-expiring, so maybe it'll be interesting to see how the votes go over time.
 

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I'm more positive about it.

I see a fair number of appealing new models (well, many are just new paint work and maybe modest detail change, but that's still better than nothing.) I want the LGB Alpine Classic crocodile locomotive and cars, an HSB 2-10-2, I like the FO rack locomotive, and I've been adding wagons to my roster this year (and I'm already running out of room!)

LGB looks to be adopting one of Marklin's strategy, of offering wagon sets. A few cars, often with a load included in the cost, sold me many wagons. This type of "extra value" marketing can only help, I think.

I still need to make the move to digital control, and here LGB appears to be about to migrate to Marklin's far more sophisticated system. Could be a 2016 purchase for me. Phone / tablet integration, onboard video, all offer new ways to use and share one's railway. Social media and You Tube make "how to" information more widely available, without waiting for the right topic in a magazine.

I'm saddened by the loss of community hobby shops, and while I like the large selection and delivery of online, I really miss not being able to wander and browse inventory, and have conversation with a shopkeeper and others.

There's very interesting manufacturing developing, like 3D printing and laser cutting, that seem poised to greatly expand product offerings. I spoke with a manufacturer and examined a neat 450 ton, multi axle (sixteen, if I recall it right) depressed-center flat car at this years ECLSTS; bit too costly for me, but an appealing kitbash project.

Over on the steam side, we have Roundhouse's Darjeeling Garratt, Regner's Mallet, and I'd read Accucraft is doing a Garratt too. Accucraft has coal US narrow gauge, and is coming out with a coal Chinese QJ. (Seriously, how many coal locomotives have been simultaneously on the market?)

The bad news, as I see it, is pre-ordering and cost is often still a problem. Pre-ordering I could understand for a buyer who gets every Aster kit sight unseen, but as a newish consumer unfamiliar with the intricacies of large scale and the manufacturers, I have no interest in paying or committing prior to seeing a product. (Heck, in the old days, a hobby shop had a test track, so you could operate a model before taking it home on the spot.)

Locomotives and wagons are expensive, as is track. I'm also bugged by package and retail decisions, like catenary poles sold in packs of one for $12. These should be sold in packs like 100, for a much better price. Same for seated passengers - I'd love to see a manufacturer offer 100 people with good detail and realism, for an attractive unit cost.

I think weird, non scale models do more harm than good. Large scale got committed to 45 mm, and just built stuff without regard to common sense. Consumers got stuck in mis-matching models, toylike characteristics to accommodate tight radius, and the hobby went into micro-niches without enough commonality.
 

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BRO

The original croc is a great engine. I should run it more than I do.

LGB made some neat engines and the croc is one of them. I stopped buying threir engines when they started coming with the "new" control system.

Chuck
 

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Live Steam is buoyant in all scales.
Track powered Large Scale, as in (mainly) 1:29 scale USA mainline is virtually non existent. ...and IMHO likely to stay that way for quite some time.
LGB and Piko seem to be the only major manufacturers doing anything.
As a result of efforts in 3d printing I predict an increasingly vibrant kit market in all scales filling the void left by the drop off from AristoCraft, Bachmann and USA Trains.
 

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There is an LGB/Piko dealer who wants to sell off the G scale part of the business. He is not computer savvy and does not want to compete in the retail/on line end of the hobby. He is selling it off for a very low price.
Is this worth buying into based on the rather sad state of the hobby?
 

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I'm saddened by the loss of community hobby shops, and while I like the large selection and delivery of online, I really miss not being able to wander and browse inventory, and have conversation with a shopkeeper and others.
This is a problem for me, too. I'm interested in a lot of different stuff for my layout, but without seeing it in person I'm reluctant to put $500 into a locomotive. For instance, I am considering buying Piko's latest BR 24... but until I actually saw it at a train show, I wasn't going to buy it sight unseen. The same is true for rolling stock--some of it is very nice, some toy-like--and how can you tell without seeing it in person? And from a seller's point of view, I can say that every time I've visited the one G-scale-carrying shop nearest me, I've walked out with at least one thing I didn't know I needed :)
There's very interesting manufacturing developing, like 3D printing and laser cutting, that seem poised to greatly expand product offerings. I spoke with a manufacturer and examined a neat 450 ton, multi axle (sixteen, if I recall it right) depressed-center flat car at this years ECLSTS; bit too costly for me, but an appealing kitbash project.
Here's my take on this one: I've seen people offer "kits" that cost two or three times the cost of a RTR car. For some folks, that's not a issue--because the item is only available as a kit, because money is no object, or whatever. But I'm not interested in paying $300 for a rolling stock kit that I have to build, paint, and letter. Maybe it's just me, but I just can't see it. Especially since I like to run two or three of each car type.
 

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I had a report from a reliable source at the Garden Railway convention that virtually the only stock that dealers had was LGB and Piko. Apparently there was fierce competition such that the prices dropped quite a lot.
If that is true then perhaps LGB and Piko are growth products.
 

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There is an LGB/Piko dealer who wants to sell off the G scale part of the business. He is not computer savvy and does not want to compete in the retail/on line end of the hobby. He is selling it off for a very low price.
Is this worth buying into based on the rather sad state of the hobby?
My impression is that the new LGB and Piko seem to be bright lights at the moment. Those I know find Piko attractive especially for small trains and beginner sets - with LGB/Massoth compatibility.

If I was a dealer new to Large Scale I would be looking at Piko. Jonathan Meador is there which impresses me.

That said, this is not a great time for hobby shops.

Jerry
 

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Hi Cliffy,

I did your poll from my perspective back when I entered the hobby. 20 years ago everything was too expensive so I bought used, I had trouble with a lot of what I bought, I chose what railroads were available because my choices would have been too expensive, and I just started building. Over the years I bought and built more until things grew beyond my abilities.

In my opinion I could find as many bargains (probably more) today than 20 years ago. Most new locomotives and rolling stock would stretch or break my budget but there are still relatively inexpensive starter sets to get started with.

If the desire and willingness to compromise are strong enough, this can be the golden years for someone new to the hobby.

If all desires and standards must be met, that train has not left the station - I don't think it ever existed.

Cheers,

Jerry
 

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I do not believe that Piko's MTS system is compatible with LGB's. If it is, would someone who knows set me straight?
I do know that the Piko American steam sound system is superior.
 

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I do not believe that Piko's MTS system is compatible with LGB's. If it is, would someone who knows set me straight?
I do know that the Piko American steam sound system is superior.
Hi Dennis,

Most of the PIKO system is made by Massoth who made most of the LGB MTS system. Compatible is a relative term (MTS was relatively compatible with generic DCC). There are multiple generations of LGB & Massoth decoders, remotes & central stations with different capabilities (most notably serial or serial & parallel capable and the maximum number of Loco ID's available - and some functions are unique to LGB.

LGB's MTS included both Serial (series of slow signals to get a function) & Parallel (one fast signal for all functions). Massoth handles both Serial & Parallel. I have LGB and Massoth (& Digitrax & MRC & NCE & some others). Since the PIKO system uses a Massoth made Navigator, I am sure it would also be compatible with LGB's MTS Serial and Parallel decoders. I am sure that the PIKO Central Station can program parallel but don't know about programming MTS Serial equipment (most LGB Serial Remotes & Central Stations could have been upgraded to Parallel (mine were) then they could handle serial & parallel).

So far, I do not have PIKO but a friend will probably order it soon. I would expect my LGB Loco & Universal Remotes and my LGB Central Stations II & III and Massoth 1200Z & Massoth Navigators would all be able to run any PIKO loco & decoder (perhaps with some limitations) but I would only expect to be able to program a PIKO decoder with the Massoth Central Station and Navigator (or PIKO). The others might or might not program a PIKO decoder well (I don't know - I never tried it). I think some PIKO decoders are not made by Massoth but I may be mistaken. I have never seen or tried any PIKO electronics (no opportunity).

PIKO decoders are NMRA DCC standard unlike older LGB decoders which were not NMRA DCC standard (they could be Serial or Serial and Parallel and all functions might not be the same).

Unless you have a older decoder with only Serial capabilities, you should find a lot of compatibility with LGB (Parallel) and DCC systems until you get into programming the decoder (there are other limits in how many Loco ID's various decoders & central stations are capable of etc.).

35010 Digital Central Station 20 V / 5 A
The Digital Central Station is the core of the PIKO G digital system. It provides 20 V and up to 5 amps of power to the track. That is enough power for concurrent operation of several trains. The Central Station conforms to the NMRA DCC standard and can be used with DCC compatible decoders from other manufacturers.

Conveniently located STOP and RESET buttons ensure easy operation while LEDs indicate operating status. You can quickly and securely hook-up to the power supply and the layout through 4 reliable clamp connectors. Navigator Remotes (#35021) can be wired directly to the Central station or can be connected wirelessly with the help of the Wireless Receiver (#35022).

Your question is more complex than it appears to be.

Someone who can set you straight is Mahommed at All About LGB:

http://www.allaboutlgb.com

Hours of operation:

Monday - Friday: 10.00 AM to 6:00 PM EST
Saturday & Sunday: closed

Mailing address:

AllAboutLGB
3539 Newland Road
Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
Tel: 410-235-3642

To place an order: [email protected]
For all other inquires: [email protected]


Another highly competent source is Jonathan at PIKO America

PIKO America, LLC
4610 Alvarado Canyon Road, Suite 5
San Diego CA 92120 USA
Phone: 619-280-2800
Toll-Free: 877-678-4449
Fax: 619-280-2843

http://www.piko-america.com/PIKO-Digital.html

Email: [email protected]
Hours:
Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 5:00PM Pacific


Either can give you very highly qualified answers to your questions. You pretty much need an expert (not me - I'm just a customer) to give you answers to the specific questions you may have but the intent is for Piko, LGB and Massoth to work together as much as possible (probably more so than other brands).

I am sure there are others including PIKO dealers who could also help. The above two happen to have a history both with LGB and Massoth and Jonathan is now with PIKO. I just happen to have no personal experience with PIKO as my focus has been on LGB and Massoth. PIKO (Like LGB) normally has a 5 amp limit but this can be raised with 5 amp boosters. Massoth offers a considerably more expensive 12 amp Central Station and Power Supply. I think PIKO might be working on a more powerful central station but for most people that may not be important.

Cheers,

Jerry
 

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How healthy is MY hobby?
I can only really answer for myself.
I am getting all that I want out of my hobby right now, and I don't see why that should change.
Like a lot of things, you get out what you are willing to put in.
I am always busy building things to do with the railway.
Now if the poll is only interested in what I can buy, then I have no idea as really don't intend to buy anything!
I am enjoying my hobby, in my way.
All the best,
David Leech, Delta, Canada
 

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Well for me, a Swiss RhB fan, it's never been better: Maerklin/LGB has been coming out with very detailed, well made cars and locomotives at reasonable prices. Since I run Massoth digital, that side of the hobby has also been advancing in leaps and bounds. Live steam is also doing very well, at least from what I've seen.
I do agree if you are a mainline N/A fan then you are suffering because of Aristo going TU and it being hard to find parts etc. Piko has been filling a void for European standard gauge, and so it depends on what you are modelling.
As for scratchbuilding, again to me it's a great time to be in the hobby. If I can't find the parts I need at my local hobby shop, then I can find it online. 3D printing has opened up a great new frontier if you have the time to learn about it, but then with Shapeways you can often collaborate with others to design/build what you want.
So overall, at least from my perspective, it's a great time to be into largescale.

I just thought of one part that isn't healthy--and that is structures. Pola is about the only reasonably durable game in town and they haven't been coming out with anything new for ages. There are some boutique builders but you have to give your first born for any of them...

Keith
 

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How healthy is MY hobby?
I can only really answer for myself.
I am getting all that I want out of my hobby right now, and I don't see why that should change.
Like a lot of things, you get out what you are willing to put in.
I am always busy building things to do with the railway.
Now if the poll is only interested in what I can buy, then I have no idea as really don't intend to buy anything!
I am enjoying my hobby, in my way.
All the best,
David Leech, Delta, Canada
i like that post. it is the only one, that expresses, what i feel myself.

maybe, it is bad times for cheque-book modellers, but for those, who seek fun and satisfaction by doing something, the hobby is great.
 

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Dennis,

In my opinion, if you have an opportunity to take a dealer's inventory at a sufficiently attractive price, and you can market it for less than the going prices and still make a return on your investment, I'd see it as a decent risk.

At train shows, for instance, there will be bargain hunters and people willing to buy on impulse of there's a deal to be had. (I'll get something I want at a show, if I want it and judge the price as attractive enough to buy it now, compared to waiting a month for TrainWorld to have a sale.)

I'd say - speaking for myself personally - that I'd need to see new items at 20% under the big internet dealers, and that is assuming the seller appears to be a professional business and takes credit cards.
 
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